My brain is fried because I've been trying to work out reimbursement claims and working on a paper.
Interestingly, one thing that has popped up a few times is why the Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme (SCRS) started by the AVA failed. Today, someone mentioned the cancellation in one of the comments to an earlier post. First things first, I don't think SCRS failed. I DO think that there are things that could have been corrected and refined about it to make it better, but it WAS a good programme in essence. In 2002, four years after the programme was started, the number of cats killed in Singapore, dropped for the first time in 20 years to 10000 from the usual 13000. In 2003, the programme was cancelled, and the number went up again.
So what happened to the SCRS and why it got cancelled? Besides the name which I have to say I never really liked - it conjured images for me of cats being sent to the gulag for hard labour! - the programme was sound.
The main reason it got cancelled was SARS. The programme had it's failings (and which progamme gets it right the first time) but it would have gone on if not for SARS. If SARS hadn't happened (and the hysterical responses subsequently), I honestly don't think SCRS would have been cancelled. It may have still run into problems, but I don't think it would have been scrapped outright. A case of a good idea but just plain bad timing I think.
Secondly, improper understanding of SCRS. Yes it emphasises sterilisation, but it also had management as a component, but that wasn't really clear. I just got off the phone a short while ago with a woman who said her town council officer told her that they could never get rid of sterilised cats in the estate because of the programme. What some officers thought was that once the cats were sterilised, that was the end of it. If other residents had problems, there was nothing they could do. They just had to keep bearing with complaints, while nothing was done and they kept getting heaped with abuse. Now I'm sure at least some of these officers used this as an excuse, but I know some genuinely frustrated officers said that they could not do anything about nuisance cases once the cat was sterilised. They didn't realise that there was a management component that allowed them to refer the complaints to the caregivers.
Some officers also felt they weren't consulted on the programme. It IS great to have official support for the programme (and I think that would be the single biggest thing that would help really). At the moment though, town councils and residents work out how they are working together - so hopefully town councils will feel more consulted too (though why they don't feel 'forced' to work with difficult complainants on the other hand, is beyond me).
At the same time, officers thought that people would be bringing cats in from other areas. To them, all 'cat lovers' want more cats - and there are more cats in the estate. Ergo, these 'cat lovers' are importing cats from other estates. I just saw this in a letter sent to the town council on Friday from a complainant asking that CWS stop being allowed to release cats all over the place!
Of course what they didn't realise is that while there are undoubtedly a small minority who do bring cats in, most of the cats that make up the increase are due to abandonment. And they didn't understand it was Trap-Neuter-RETURN-Manage.
Which leads to problem three - nothing was done about abandonment. So the cat population, while sterilised, kept growing. This meant that people were wondering why TNRM was not working. If the cats were sterilised, why did the population continue to grow?
Problem four was that some caregivers got complacent - since the cats were sterilised, they could not be caught, so a small group of them just sat back and didn't manage the population. Some stopped sterilising, and I know some told the officers that they could never remove the cats because they were sterilised - without any proper management.
Problem five - no proper statistics were kept. So few people knew if the programme was working. Were there more cats, were there less? Were there fewer complaints? No one really knew. So it was hard to prove the programme WAS working.
There are problems other reasons why the programme didn't work, but these are at least the main ones I think cause the programme to not be as successful as it could be. We'll need to keep this in mind when starting up programmes and try not to repeat our mistakes.